Editorial – An election of whispers, not shouts

Jeff Burgar

Alberta’s 2023 election came and went.

One of the province’s top municipal consultants, George Cuff, says no matter who is elected in a county, town or city election, even if it is all the same people, it should still be considered a “brand new council.”

It might be easy to understand that even one new councillor in a group of seven or three or nine can fairly be described as new. Cuff argues that elections often bring nuance and changes to candidate thinking. Much more so than a delegation or a letter to council from a voter might bring during a regular term of office.

So, using the same line of thought, no matter who won our provincial election, it can be argued we have a “brand new” government. It may be United Conservative. It might be New Democrat. No matter. New faces bring, hopefully, new ideas. Thus, we have a “brand new” government, ready to do good and take on the world.

Danielle Smith said in her campaign materials there will be changes to our health care system. There are broad brush strokes, but few details. It sounds as if recommendations from the 2016 Starke Report are coming. This provincial government report came out just before Rachel Notley’s government was elected. Notley put the Starke Report on the shelf. It’s entirely likely there might be some reconsideration of the report’s ideas if she is the new premier. Of course, since it was her government that shelved the report, it’s also entirely possible the recommendations, overwhelmingly endorsed and wanted by Albertans, will be tossed in the cupboard.

Notley is promising “tens of thousands of jobs and billions in new investment.” While that sort of sounds like business investment, there are no details. But she already has said part of this plan will be more teachers. Meaning there likely will be a slew of government jobs everywhere, from nurses to health care staff to just about any place a government dollar can be spent. Including doctors.

At the end of the day, both the NDP and UCP, the two main parties that fought it out this election, didn’t really say much about our future Alberta. Smith, of course, has already talked about policing and claims to fight Ottawa intrusion. Plus the aforementioned health reforms in spending, cutting surgery wait times and emergency response and bringing back local decision-making. In the battle of the words, Smith has actually put much more on the table than Notley.

The scary part is, Alberta has just a little bit too much money to spend right now. Recalling the famous slogan from the past century, too much money makes it quite easy to start peeing it all away again.

Those in power are no different from almost all the rest of us. When we have coins to rub together, no matter how good our intentions, it seems always a wee bit too hard to stash money in the bank for rainy days. This is a real Alberta problem. As a province and as voters, we keep side-stepping and shoving this issue to the back burner.

As usual, what is really going to happen has yet to be seen.

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